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Jeff Samardzija brilliant, bats unreal as Giants mercy-rule Rockies

Jeff Samardzija earlier this month. Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

It likely felt fortunate for the Rockies when Brandon Crawford flipped to Joe Panik for the final out for the Giants, securing the San Francisco victory.

Because before it truly ended, it did not feel as if the onslaught would ever cease.

The Giants scored five in the first inning, seven in the second and three in the sixth, part of an explosion that demolished the Rockies, 19-2, at Coors Field on Monday in Game 1 of their doubleheader.

The Giants have scored 94 runs since June 30, the most in an 11-game span since they moved to San Francisco in 1958, according to Stats LLC. The 19 runs was easily a season high and matches their output on Sept. 14, 2013, when they put up 19 against the Dodgers.

The victory bumps the Giants to 44-49, the first time they’ve been 5-under .500 since they were 21-26 on May 21. They moved to within four games of the Phillies for the second wild-card slot in winning nine of their last 11, a frenetic rush toward Farhan Zaidi’s decision day of July 31.

The offensive numbers were suitably ridiculous on the same day they placed their hottest hitter, Evan Longoria (plantar fascitis), on the injured list. Crawford went 5-for-6 with two home runs and eight RBIs. Mike Yastrzemski went 4-for-6 with a homer and three RBIs. Alex Dickerson added three hits. Buster Posey tattooed a two-run homer to center.

Corner infielder Mark Reynolds got the final three outs for the Rockies, but not before the Giants scored two runs off him.

And on a day when the Giants still have a second game to play — and on a day all about the offense — Jeff Samardzija made sure it was as lopsided as the score indicated. The 34-year-old was terrific and able to largely spare the bullpen, going 6 2/3 innings while allowing two runs on four hits, one walk and nine strikeouts.

With a fastball that touched 95 mph and a cutter he relied upon in the Colorado heat, Samardzija threw 63 of his 92 pitches for strikes and got ahead of 17 of the 25 batters he faced. His only blips were homers to Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia (as well as a couple forgettable at-bats, where it appeared he was trying, successfully, to strike out so as not to risk himself on the basepaths).

While the Giants’ trade deadline has been billed, rightfully so, as the Madison Bumgarner and Will Smith sweepstakes, Samardzija is making a late charge, which could give a contender something to think about. In his past three starts, the big right-hander has allowed four runs in 21 2/3 innings (1.66 ERA) while surrendering just 13 hits.

Samardzija is signed through next year, with $18 million awaiting him in 2020, and he still seems a far-fetched trade piece — mostly because of the salary, but also in part because the Giants are not playing as if they want anyone dealt.

It is not likely the Giants can do enough to persuade Zaidi he should stand pat at the trade deadline, 16 days away. And yet, relentless hitting and solid pitching is not the formula for selling.


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